T Nation

The Profiling Question

What is the feeling on profiling with regard to security checks on public transportation and at the airports.

I have not seen it at the airports and I think the TSA goes out of it’s way to avoid it, sometimes to the point of being comical (searching old ladies and letting yound men pass).

The NYC Police Departments are now doing random searches on the subways. They said they are not using profiling techniques but have also stated they would be more effective if they did.

Is it a vioaltion of civil rights to use profiling techniques? Or is it an effective law enforcement tool to go after the most likely suspects instead of searching everyone.

The Brits just killed a guy they thought was going to set off a bomb. Dammed if you do, dammed if you don’t. The poor SOB could have had a bomb. They sure thoght he did. You can’t blame them. It’s a tough call to make when you are in the breach.

I think it sucks that this is what it has come to but I don’t see an alternative. Does anyone have one to offer that would be better?

FYI- I have used the NYC subways all my life. Haven’t been into the city for a few weeks and am wondering what it will be like next week. I am one of those guys who can afford to use a car service but the bottom line it takes forever and the subways are a lot cheaper and a hell of a lot faster, especially during the rush hours. It’s just the best way to travel. Perhaps it’s their weakness also.

Thoughts or opinions?

Im half Arab and Ill tell you, profiling is the only thing that wil work in the current scenario. Next time I take the PATH to Hoboken or a city subway and I get called aside, Ill suck it up because its simply needed. I wont enjoy it or feel proud of it though, hell I get stared at enough being a 325 pound man at just under 6 ft, brown skinned and with a goatee and eyebrows reminiscent of Lucifer himself and I hate the stares.
The situation is getting a little worse with these african-muslims getting in on the deal now though so that makes the potential profilee pool even larger.
I can only imagine the brain-washing required to push these people to do this. I cant see the U.S economy ever recovering from another major attack if it occurs anytime this year or before Bush leaves office.
Scary thought.

Amir

[quote]hedo wrote:
What is the feeling on profiling with regard to security checks on public transportation and at the airports.

I have not seen it at the airports and I think the TSA goes out of it’s way to avoid it, sometimes to the point of being comical (searching old ladies and letting yound men pass).

The NYC Police Departments are now doing random searches on the subways. They said they are not using profiling techniques but have also stated they would be more effective if they did.

Is it a vioaltion of civil rights to use profiling techniques? Or is it an effective law enforcement tool to go after the most likely suspects instead of searching everyone.

The Brits just killed a guy they thought was going to set off a bomb. Dammed if you do, dammed if you don’t. The poor SOB could have had a bomb. They sure thoght he did. You can’t blame them. It’s a tough call to make when you are in the breach.

I think it sucks that this is what it has come to but I don’t see an alternative. Does anyone have one to offer that would be better?

FYI- I have used the NYC subways all my life. Haven’t been into the city for a few weeks and am wondering what it will be like next week. I am one of those guys who can afford to use a car service but the bottom line it takes forever and the subways are a lot cheaper and a hell of a lot faster, especially during the rush hours. It’s just the best way to travel. Perhaps it’s their weakness also.

Thoughts or opinions?[/quote]

I heard about the cops shooting the guy that ran. Thats pretty crazy. Does anybody know if this shooting of suspicous people that run is an actual policy change by the British police?

From what I heard he was a guy wearing a thick padded winter coat, in the middle fo the summer. He resisted and they shot him in the head so that he didn’t detonate his vest. Problem was he didn’t have one on. Just dressed odd for the weather.

Also a report that he was under watch and was followed from his home. mistakenly it turned out.

More will happen.

[quote]hedo wrote:
What is the feeling on profiling with regard to security checks on public transportation and at the airports.
[/quote]

i think it would make security measures more effective.

i think it sucks, but i think its necessary.

I think it’s a necessary evil. I hate the “infringement” on personal freedom based upon race or creed. But the fact is that Arab muslims are responsible for almost all terrorism today.

What’s really nerve wracking is the new slew of western-looking terrorists being recruited. A SEAL recon team during operation Anaconda spotted a man manning a DSK heavy machine gun and before attacking made multiple calls wondering if there were British SAS in the area The guy looked like any other aryan male. He was from Uzbekistan. So racial profiling will work only for so long but is effective until then.

I’m not middle eastern, but I have a tan complexion and dark, waivy hair. Needless to say, whenever I’m in a secure area, I’m usually confronted by security. I’m not offended by it, just a little annoyed. It’s a necessary evil.

The problem with profiling is that if we start accepting it as part of life, then we are one step away from giving up the very freedom and liberties that we enjoy. If for example we accept arab profiling, then what’s next?

This seems to be exactly what those who are committing these acts against our society want, to change our way of life. I am not saying the world we live in today is safe, but that the alternative also has its downside. Ben Franklin once said that, “they that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety”. Of course it is hard with the way things are now in our world to think that a little inconvience will be such a big deal, but then again, who knows for sure? There is that slippery slope arguement that even by giving up some liberty, you give up everything.

On what vbspiker wrote:

That’s a very good point. There’s a fine line with this. You have to tread lightly or you’ll step on that proverbial slippery slope.

[quote]Panther1015 wrote:
On what vbspiker wrote:

That’s a very good point. There’s a fine line with this. You have to tread lightly or you’ll step on that proverbial slippery slope.[/quote]

I would beg to differ with you, gentlemen. We are pretty fucking far from the slippery slope, if you ask me. The War on Drugs has done far more to our personal individual liberty than the War on Terror. Remember the Bill of Rights, and the search and seizure thingy? Take a look at any drug bust gone wrong; wrong house, wrong guys, etc. and you will see a serious violation of civil rights.

Screening folks at the airports is just common sense in my book. In fact, NOT profiling just a little bit is more naive than anything. This is life and death we’re talking about here.

Law Enforcement will wiretap a suspected drug dealer without hesitation. They will follow them around, take notes of who they meet, where they go, what time, etc. Then, when they think the time is right, they will storm into the alleged dealer’s house, break his furniture, throw him and anybody else in the house to the ground, etc.

And these are just drug dealers! These aren’t guys strapping bombs to themselves and taking out sixty innocent people in a grocery store.

Make sense?

I don’t have a problem with it. I think it’s an unfortunate necessity. The motivation is not racism. Most muslims are NOT terrorists. But most terrorists seem to unforunately be muslim.

It makes sense to me to more carefully screen those in fundamentalist garb or those of whatever nationality/religion who have a clear suspicious air to them than your 80-year old grandmother in jeans and a t-shirt. I don’t view it as dscriminatory or an infringement on civil liberties. Of course, the 80-year old granmother could be terrorist too, but it’s very unlikely.

[quote]vbspiker wrote:
The problem with profiling is that if we start accepting it as part of life, then we are one step away from giving up the very freedom and liberties that we enjoy. If for example we accept arab profiling, then what’s next?

This seems to be exactly what those who are committing these acts against our society want, to change our way of life. I am not saying the world we live in today is safe, but that the alternative also has its downside. Ben Franklin once said that, “they that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety”. Of course it is hard with the way things are now in our world to think that a little inconvience will be such a big deal, but then again, who knows for sure? There is that slippery slope arguement that even by giving up some liberty, you give up everything.[/quote]

I agree with you to a degree. And it’s a great quote of Franklin’s too. I think we have gone too far/gotten to fascist in some things. Like, I support aspects of the Patriot Act but think there are some problems with it. But we balance our liberty and security all the time. That’s basically what government is. We trade unbridled freedom (such as anarchists would like) for some regulations in order to have protection and create order.

Personally, whenever I go through all the security, I’m hassled but glad it exists. Even when I’ve had to go through an extra security check once or twice.

We can all agree that this is a necessary evil and there is a delicate balancing act involved in keeping the peace while preserving basic civil liberties.

[quote]lothario1132 wrote:
Panther1015 wrote:
On what vbspiker wrote:

That’s a very good point. There’s a fine line with this. You have to tread lightly or you’ll step on that proverbial slippery slope.

I would beg to differ with you, gentlemen. We are pretty fucking far from the slippery slope, if you ask me. The War on Drugs has done far more to our personal individual liberty than the War on Terror. Remember the Bill of Rights, and the search and seizure thingy? Take a look at any drug bust gone wrong; wrong house, wrong guys, etc. and you will see a serious violation of civil rights.

Screening folks at the airports is just common sense in my book. In fact, NOT profiling just a little bit is more naive than anything. This is life and death we’re talking about here.

Law Enforcement will wiretap a suspected drug dealer without hesitation. They will follow them around, take notes of who they meet, where they go, what time, etc. Then, when they think the time is right, they will storm into the alleged dealer’s house, break his furniture, throw him and anybody else in the house to the ground, etc.

And these are just drug dealers! These aren’t guys strapping bombs to themselves and taking out sixty innocent people in a grocery store.

Make sense?[/quote]

This is an excellent post. I’m a hard-line libertarian, but, for a variety of reasons, I’m comfortable with intrusive airport security measures.

However, I have to call attention to the difference between Euro airport security and US airport security: in most of Europe, the security measures are less intrusive. Why? Profiling works against Islamic terrorism! As uncomfortable as this is for civil libertarians, its still true.

The biggest problem that we’re facing right now is alluded to in lothario’s post: we’ve lost the ability to differentiate between acceptable and unacceptable infringements of personal rights. We’re not concerned about the ability of the government to detain anyone of us-- indefinitely, secretly, and without trial-- but we are worried about hurting people’s feelings during additional screening on a friggin airplane!?

Seriously, this is a total misappropriation of outrage. Here’s a couple of good article links (from liberal media sources…) that illustrate my concerns.

on profiling:

http://www.nationalreview.com/comment/mac_donald200507221413.asp

on creeping totalitarianism:

[quote]lothario1132 wrote:
Panther1015 wrote:
On what vbspiker wrote:

That’s a very good point. There’s a fine line with this. You have to tread lightly or you’ll step on that proverbial slippery slope.

I would beg to differ with you, gentlemen. We are pretty fucking far from the slippery slope, if you ask me. The War on Drugs has done far more to our personal individual liberty than the War on Terror. Remember the Bill of Rights, and the search and seizure thingy? Take a look at any drug bust gone wrong; wrong house, wrong guys, etc. and you will see a serious violation of civil rights.

Screening folks at the airports is just common sense in my book. In fact, NOT profiling just a little bit is more naive than anything. This is life and death we’re talking about here.

Law Enforcement will wiretap a suspected drug dealer without hesitation. They will follow them around, take notes of who they meet, where they go, what time, etc. Then, when they think the time is right, they will storm into the alleged dealer’s house, break his furniture, throw him and anybody else in the house to the ground, etc.

And these are just drug dealers! These aren’t guys strapping bombs to themselves and taking out sixty innocent people in a grocery store.

Make sense?[/quote]

Agree 100%.

Where is the outcry about the failed War on Drugs?

I am generally anti-drug, but we have taken it too far.

The War on Terror is nowhere near this point (yet), despite the politically motivated blathering of many.

I thought that this thread would contain very heated debate. I am very pleasantly suprised to see that evryone agrees on something for a change.

Profiling works. It’s just not politically correct. And I hate to see the terrorists get a leg up by taking advantage of the fact that our homeland security has a huge, gaping hole in it because we don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings.

It’s way past time to worry about feelings. This is a war, and if we’re not willing to play to win - then we lose.

Profile untill they can get 80 year old ladies to start blowing shit up, then go back to the random “no profiling”. I’ll let them search my Depends if I’m still around by then. Untill then, it’s neccessary, unfortunately.

Better training for the TSA people would probably be more effective then racial profiling. Racial profiling has some serious limits and flaws. Stopping someone because they “look” like a terrorist, instead of stopping someone because of their observed actions/mannerisms is a mistake in my opinion.

Racial profiling may work, but only until they recruit more Caucasians; like that American kid they caught in Afghanistan a few years ago. Then we will have to fall back on other methods.

Being a techie, I think more investment in R&D of expolsive sniffers would be a much better idea. As you walk through the metal detector a sniffer checks for explosives. In the long run, better technology and more training for our TSA people in observation and psych classes would be more effective in fighting terrorism at airports in my opinion.

I think they should do a mix of directed searches (aka “profiles” based on statistical likeliehoods, including race, sex, national origin, and travelling patterns) and random searches. You need to keep the random searches in place as a back-up mechanism, because surely the terrorists will attempt to adapt if they figure out the criterian on which the statistical profiles are based.